Cheyenne Woods wins in Australia
GOLD COAST, Australia -- Cheyenne Woods won the Australian Ladies Masters on Sunday for her first major professional tour victory, holding off 17-year-old Australian amateur Minjee Lee by two strokes.
The 23-year-old Woods, Tiger Woods' niece, closed with a 4-under 69 at Royal Pines to finish at 16-under 276. Lee also shot 69 in the event sanctioned by the European and Australian tours.
Cheyenne Woods birdied the par-5 15th to open a two-stroke lead, hitting a wedge from about 120 yards to 4 feet. On the par-5 18th, she matched Lee with a birdie, holing out from 1½ feet.
From Phoenix, Woods is the daughter of Earl Dennison Woods Jr., Tiger Woods' half-brother.
Tiger Woods took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to pass along congratulations to his niece.
Way to go @Cheyenne_Woods ! A great win and accomplishment. I'm so proud of you.- Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) February 9, 2014
Cheyenne Woods turned professional in 2012 after an All-America career at Wake Forest, and her only previous pro victory came in 2012 in a SunCoast minitour event. In December, she missed the cut in the LPGA Tour's qualifying tournament in a failed bid to earn a spot on the circuit.
She choked back tears Sunday as she spoke of the significance of winning a Ladies European Tour event.
"This is a huge accomplishment for me," she said. "The European Tour has been great to be able to play this past year.
"I've been able to see all of these great players, play with Solheim Cup members. ... To be able to come out here and compete with them and come out on top was huge for me."
Woods said she had learned to live with the pressure of expectation that came with bearing a famous golfing name.
"I've been pro for two years, and for the majority of it, people just think of me as Tiger Woods' niece, so now I have a game of my own and I have a title now, a win, which is exciting," she said. "It's nice now to say to people that I can play and I'm not just a name.
"Growing up with the last name of Woods, there's a lot of expectations and pressure and spotlight on you but I always knew that I was able to win.
"I always knew I'd be able to compete with these ladies so now it's kind of a weight off my shoulders because now everybody knows, not just me."
Woods' win earned her $51,000 in prize money and a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour events.
Woods will play next week in the LPGA Tour-sanctioned Women's Australian Open in Victoria.
South Africa's Stacy Lee Bregman and Sweden's Camilla Lennarth tied for third at 12 under.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.